Yes! Some Progress in the Right Direction for Women in Tech

November 15, 2019

“Progress takes time,” we often hear. Ironically, the tech sector—where advancement moves ever faster and faster—has been a place of little progress and forward momentum for women. Four years ago, we began the Harvey Nash Women in Technology Survey with the hopes of tracking the challenges as well as positive changes for women in the IT workplace. Frankly, the news hasn’t always been positive. This year, however, I am happy to report that the 2019 survey reveals an area of noteworthy progress, demonstrating that efforts to create a more diverse and equitable tech workforce may be starting to pay off in significant ways. 

A Growing Welcome

The most notable sign of progress in the survey was a large drop in the percentage of women rating an unwelcoming environment as a top workplace challenge. In 2018, 35% of women said that an unwelcoming IT environment was a top challenge for them. That number fell to 25% in 2019, which is a significant year-over-year change.

Why the drop? One likely reason is that a growing number of businesses are legitimizing the importance of having more women in tech by establishing formal programs for recruiting/hiring women (32%) and for providing career development to the women IT professionals they employ (36%). The more businesses commit to giving women a solid shot at tech employment and career development, the more their entire organizations will learn to see tech careers and environments as a place for all to succeed.

Slower Progress, Divided Perspectives

Where progress continues at a slow pace is in tech workforce participation and leadership. According to survey participants, only 28% of their IT colleagues are women. That’s a small rise from 26% in 2018. Only 23% of IT leadership teams are women, which is also a minor bump up from last year’s 21%. Far more women than men see the limited representation of women in IT leadership as an issue. According to the survey, 95% of women surveyed feel that women are under-represented in technology leadership ranks compared to 72% of men.

This theme of women seeing the technology workplace differently than men in substantial ways bubbles to the top of the survey again when it comes to compensation. The survey found that more than twice as many men as women (75% vs. 32%) believe their company offers equal pay. Only 9% of men say their firm does not provide equal pay compared to 38% of women.

More Than Findings

One of the reasons I am most proud of the Women in Technology Survey is that we go beyond the data. This year’s survey has lots of results I want to encourage you to dive into (Find out how men might not be feeling the “IT welcome” the way they used to and explore the most effective ways women have found to advance their tech careers). And it also includes real-world insights and stories from women in tech who are mentors and mentees focused on doing the extra work and networking it takes to expand the role, voice and leadership opportunities of women across the technology sector.

Let me encourage you to download the full report now and share your thoughts and ideas on where we are at today and how we can accelerate progress and advance with speed towards a more equitable tech workplace.